We released the 2012 CBSSports.com Preseason Heisman Watch on Monday. Since then, we've followed up with an in-depth look at the Heisman chances of each of the top 10 candidates.
Robinson has almost everything you look for in a Heisman candidate.
He is a senior quarterback who plays for a traditional power that is coming off an 11-win season. He's in his third year as a starter and therefore he has great name recognition among those who follow college football. He stands out with his trademark dreadlocks and 'Shoelace' nickname. He finished sixth in the Heisman in 2010 and for a short time that year was considered to be the front runner for the trophy, so voters are used to thinking of him as a candidate. He has outstanding statistical production, with the ability to hurt defenses on the ground or in the air. He's got a flair for the dramatic, plus he's a gamebreaker who shows up with regularity in the highlight reels.
All of that adds up to a formidable candidacy, but the challenge for Robinson, as it has been every year, is to stay healthy and consistent for a full season. He showed signs of progress in those areas in 2011, as he got his feet wet in the offensive system brought in by new coach Brady Hoke. It stands to reason that he'll be more comfortable in that scheme in year two and put together a fine senior campaign.
Even though Robinson has the ability to win the Heisman by virtue of his play on the field alone, part of what will make him appealing to voters is the overall narrative of Michigan's 'return to glory'. The Wolverines were 19-22 under Rich Rodriguez, but rebounded last year with an 11-2 record, thanks in part to Robinson's leadership and playmaking savvy. If Michigan wins the Big Ten title, Robinson will be seen as the on-field catalyst who made it happen.
His numbers will help, too. Robinson burst onto the scene as a true sophomore, rushing for 1,702 yards and throwing for 2,570 while totaling 32 touchdowns. For a while, it looked like he might be the first-ever 2,000/2,000 player in college football history. As a junior, his role in Michigan's offense changed and he dropped to 1,176 rushing yards and 2,173 passing yards, though he did increase his touchdown total to 36. His major statistical drawback is that he is mistake-prone, with 26 interceptions in the last two seasons and a penchant for fumbling.
If Robinson rushes for 1,500-plus yards and throws for 2,500-plus yards (and limits his mistakes), while also combining for 40-plus touchdowns, he could win the Heisman as long as Michigan wins at least 9 games. Should he lead the Wolverines to a special season that includes (at minimum) a Big Ten title, he doesn't have to have that kind of blowout production to win.
The schedule is set up perfectly for Robinson. Michigan opens with defending national champ Alabama in Dallas. All eyes will be on that game and if Robinson leads Big Blue to an unexpected win over the Tide, he will immediately vault to the top of the Heisman race. Even if Michigan loses, though, he'll have 11 or 12 games to crawl back into it. It's a low-risk, high-reward situation. He'll also matchup against Notre Dame in South Bend, where a win can always help one's Heisman hopes. Then, of course, there is the rivalry game against Ohio State and, perhaps, the Big Ten title game.
It sounds like a tall order for the 6-foot-0 speedster, but if anyone can pull it off, he can.
Read what Montee Ball has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what Landry Jones has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what Aaron Murray has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what EJ Manuel has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what Geno Smith has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what Knile Davis has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what De'Anthony Thomas has to do to win the Heisman here.
Read what Clemson's Tajh Boyd has to do to win the Heisman here.